We have a guest contributor today. While I play a few games on my phone, my son Harry has experienced a far greater range of diverse games iacross a variety of platforms. I thought it would be helpful to get his opinion on LEGO® Builder’s Journey – the debut game from Light Brick Studios. His opinion might be a little different to mine… and that’s OK. Read on for his take on the game…
Lego: Builder’s Journey
Developer: Light Brick Studio
Platforms: PC (Steam and Epic Games), Switch, iOS/Apple Arcade
Replayability: Low – Medium (depending on future updates)
LEGO: Builder’s Journey by Light Brick Studio is a meditative puzzle game about the relationship between parent and child, the importance of play, and how cool LEGO is. From an aesthetic standpoint, it’s brilliant; the music and level design give a sense of serene contemplation even during the more frustrating levels, the unspoken story between the son and father was kind of heartwarming and even without the RTX graphics the levels look beautiful, from the broader strokes like the level design – the flowing rivers, treacherous mountains, and hidden caves – to the finer details, like the little scratches on the pieces and the way light reflects off them or shines through. Creative Director of Light Brick Studio, Karsten Lund, spoke in a roundtable discussion on the game about how in the process of writing the narrative they “decided that we were not writing a story, we’re writing a poem” and this certainly comes across in the end product. Spiritually it feels almost akin to Unravel (2016), another puzzle game that relied on atmosphere to convey the story and emotion without dialogue.
From a mechanical standpoint, however, I have some slight gripes. The lack of dialogue works fine for the story, but there were several points throughout the game that I feel could have done with some additional tutorial, such as the bit where you have to construct a path by placing tiles which then multiply into other tiles and so on, which fails to make it clear that even though you’ve built a path the start of it is too high for you to cross despite the fact that other levels have allowed you to scale that height before, or even on occasion where it is you’re meant to be building a path to. The distinct beginning and end of each section is a bit of a disappointment too, as it often seems we’ve just gotten to grips with a mechanic and then it’s never brought up again, and given the shorter length (about three hours for me to complete it on PC) it would’ve been nice to see some of the mechanics integrated with each other a bit more. For a game about Lego, it ironically could’ve stood to build on itself a bit more.
That being said, the game’s still functional and enjoyable, and while the $30 price tag on PC and Switch initially seems a bit steep, it’s a marked improvement on the mobile version in terms of both graphics and controls. Light Brick have stated their intention to continue development and support for Builder’s Journey, which will hopefully include more levels or support for user-created ones, but if I take future content into account in a review then it’s difficult to have any confidence in it. A game could turn my computer to a pile of molten slag but I’d have to add the proviso that they might patch in a fire extinguisher. As-is, the game is good but the length and separation of mechanics from level to level makes it difficult to unconditionally recommend the PC and console versions at the current price at time of writing. If you’ve got Apple Arcade and don’t mind the slightly fiddly controls, however, that becomes significantly easier to recommend.
Like LEGO Bricks, I feel the game is aiming at a luxury point in the market. I agree with Harry with regard to the quality of the immersion in the aesthetic, as well as the relatively short time required to complete the game. But if the time that you spend contains a high quality experience, surely that means for something. It probably depends on your personal dedication to the brick. If thinking about LEGO bricks dominates your day, then the price may be less material to you, especially if playing through Apple Arcade – either on mobile or iOS, rather than a direct purchase through Steam, Epic or Nintendo eStore. However, the difference between the images on the PC, with good video processing, or even better RTX graphics cannot be denied. If you are looking for ‘merely’ a casual gaming experience, this might not be for you.
If you want to read more about the development process for the game, you can check out our write up of a Fan Media Roundtable with the Development team, published earlier today.
Have you played Builder’s Journey? How did you find it? Why not leave your comments below and until next time,